A couple of months ago I was visiting with my uncle about politics. At the time Donald Trump was soaring in popularity. My uncle made a good point that stuck with me: guys like Trump are what we get when people become fatigued by political jargon and failed promises. When someone like Trump gets in the spotlight and starts shooting from the hip with his straight-talk rhetoric, it resonates with a lot of people. Good or bad, it’s the natural reaction to past political failures in our culture.
Politics aside, I believe a similar thing has happened with this recent Starbucks cup excitement, but in a spiritual sense. As a Christian in modern America, I’ve seen a continual trend by secular society of trying to de-Christianize things. I’m not saying Starbucks has done this by using a plain, red cup, but as a company they do have a track record of supporting unscriptural positions. It’s within this context that some Christians (a minority it seems) were offended. As a Christian living with the same societal pressure and, at times, persecution; I understand their concern about attempts to take Christ out of things, even if it’s something as minor as a disposable coffee cup. I don’t share their position nor do I want to legitimize their actions, but I understand where they’re coming from, and it’s always healthy to have a better understanding.
But, to me, there’s an even bigger concern present. For far too long Christians in America have been content to sit on the sidelines as our culture trends toward immorality. Instead of standing out as the “salt and light of the earth” (Matt. 5:13-14) they have become numb by the de-sensitizing pressures of our culture. The philosophy that society attempts to ingrain in us is that we shouldn’t publicly defend our faith. In America, freedom and tolerance are often the rallying cries of those who are sick of hearing the message of the cross. In such a climate, when Christians fail to provide a witness of the truth or defend their faith, it’s inevitable that people like Joshua Feuerstein will rise up and gain popularity. I’m not here to label Joshua’s intentions. From most of what I have seen and read about him, he appears to mean well and he certainly has sincerity about what he believes from the Bible, even if his actions are misguided at times.
But his radical views and tactics are what Christianity at-large gets for failing to take a stand and defend God’s Word in truth and love. Feuerstein is the religious version of Donald Trump, which isn’t surprising since Trump backed his idea to boycott Starbucks. While he may have good intentions he ends up turning others away with his overly aggressive, sarcastic, and demeaning approach. He has filled the vacuum that has slowly been forming through an ungodly trend in society combined with Christian timidity.
From a Biblical perspective, Feuerstein is an example of Ephesians 4:15 when “truth” is over-emphasized at the expense of “love.” An unfortunate by-product is that all Christians, even if they don’t agree with the minority, are eventually lumped in by association; especially among those with little knowledge of the Christian faith. We may sit back and point the finger solely at Feuerstein, and many are doing this, but as a collective body we are just as much to blame. He’s risen up as a voice for Christians because too many are failing to rise up on their own. It’s always easier to jump on the bandwagon and criticize the loud, and at times obnoxious voices, but it’s much harder to show the same fervor when the target is pointed the other direction; whether that be at your own sinful heart or at the errors of the world. Memes and quick one liners on facebook are the epitome of over-analyzing the speck while ignoring the plank (Matthew 7:3).
I don’t agree with Fuererstein when it comes to Starbucks’ cups, but I respect his courage to take a stand. How many of us regular, ordinary Christians would do the same? And if we did would things be different? A stand in your faith is more than just a facebook post here or there or a thumbs up “like” of approval, even though sometimes the little things can make a big difference. Taking a stand is a lifestyle. It means hastening to the Word of God daily to hear and learn. It means appreciating and taking advantage of the religious freedom we have to heed the “one thing needed (Luke 10:42)” each Sunday. Yes, the lost art of listening, especially to the voice of your Savior. This is the great enigma of the 21st century when witty blog posts and keen facebook comments rule; and the eternal wisdom of Christ crucified takes a back seat. And finally, a stand in your faith means taking that Word to heart and showing it, even if that means having to go against the majority.
Before you judge anyone, whether it be Starbucks or Joshua Feuerstein, ask yourself this: Have you judged yourself? Have you examined your own heart? Have you been courageous in your Christian witness, even if you’re misguided at times? It’s easy to sit back and criticize a Christian for trying and failing, especially when so many others are joining in. But in the end what’s worse, taking a stand and saying the wrong thing or taking no stand at all? Are you examining? Are you listening? Are you learning?
Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. 2 Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. 12 Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You. 14 Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness. 15 Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. Psalm 51:1-2, 12-15